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Airbnb agrees to improve consumer protection

The European Commission announced on Thursday that Airbnb has improved its platform and fully clarified the way it presents accommodation offers to customers.

The wider issue of its impact on the real estate market is left to national and local authorities in the member states.

The agreement follows a call in July 2018 from the European Commission and EU consumer protection authorities to Airbnb to address consumer concerns. According to the Commission, Airbnb has addressed all the demands to bring its practices and terms in line with EU consumer rules.

“For these summer holidays, Europeans will simply get what they see when they book their holidays. Comparing and booking online hotel or accommodation has made it fast and easy for consumers,” said Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. She expects other platforms to follow suit.

In accommodation searches with selected dates, users will see the total price in the results page, including all the applicable mandatory charges and fees (such as service fees, cleaning charges and local taxes). Airbnb will also indicate if an accommodation offer is put on the market by a private host or a professional.

It will also be easier to settle any disputes with Airbnb. It will provide a link to the Online Dispute Resolution platform on its website and all the necessary information related to dispute resolution. Users will be able to bring a case against Airbnb before the courts of their country of residence and also have a legal right to sue a host in case of personal harm or other damages.

Airbnb, a leading example of the shared economy, has made inroads in many cities around the world. While benefitting consumers, it has also been questioned for unfair competition with hotels and for depriving the real estate market of apartments available for sale or long-term renting.

Asked by The Brussels Times (11 July) if the Commission would also look into these issues, the Commission chief spokesperson replied that most of them would require action on other levels. “I’m not sure that the Commission has the competency to deal with these major issues.”

The Brussels Times

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